It's not exactly a rematch of Super Bowl LVI, but when the Bengals scrimmage the Rams Wednesday on the Kettering Health Practice Fields it's not your typical joint session between NFL teams, either.
"When you see you we had joint practices against people we saw in the Super Bowl, you get a little edge about it," said linebacker Germaine Pratt before practice, one of the Bengals' 19 Super Bowl starters on the field or on the sidelines. "You want to get better and showcase something."
Left tackle Johan Williams, who won't have to deal with future Hall-of-Famer Von Miller like the Bengals had to in the big game, says the Rams are still do very good up front and he's looking at it as a Sunday.
"All of us are approaching it as a game," Williams said. "The only difference is we're not going live tackling to the ground. So it's the same up front. That tempo has to be game speed for us."
There have been a slew of fights in other joint practices this month, but Bengals head coach Zac Taylor says, "These are two teams with high character." He should know. He coached with the Rams in 2017-18 and counts Rams head coach Sean McVay as a friend.
"I've talked to him for the last three days," Taylor said before Wednesday's practice.
Pratt says, "Football is chippy," but he also knows as last year's third-leading tackler for the Bengals, he can't do that Wednesday and Thursday.
"You want to stay healthy and you know your opponent has put in the work like you have in the offseason and you want to respect him," Pratt said. "You know what you're trying to do. There's a few things you're trying to get better before playing the Steelers (in the Sept. 11 opener.)"
_Taylor said he expects the first offensive line to line up at some point in these practices, which features four new players since the Rams tied a Super Bowl record with seven sacks of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.
One of them is fourth-rounder Cordell Volson after he made his first start at left guard Sunday night against the Giants. Volson took every snap and drew a good review from Taylor, but Taylor also said the competition with Jackson Carman isn't over and Carman still has a shot to win it despite missing most of last week with COVID. He's back to practice Wednesday.
_Burrow, apparently never had an intrasquad scrimmage at Athens High School because he said the date against the defending Super Bowl champs is his first one.
"It will be interesting. It's my first one. I really don't know what to expect," Burrow said. "I don't know how intense it will be. I'm just excited to go against another defense."
_But Burrow knows enough about it that he figures he may never play in another preseason game while intrasquad scrimmages become the thing.
"It takes the place of being in a preseason game in an intense environment without the chance of injury," Burrow said. "I would say it's tough to predict the future, but the way the league is going, once some of these teams start to move in a different direction then I think teams will start playing their starters less and less."
_In his second week back from his appendectomy, Burrow said, "I'm getting stronger, I'm getting my weight back. On the right track."
_Even though the signature play of the Super Bowl is Burrow getting wrapped up by Rams great defensive tackle Aaron Donald on fourth down with 39 seconds left, they've never met or chatted.
"I'm hoping," Burrow said with a smile, "he's going to lay off me a little bit."
"Practice is practice. Guys are going to get close. You just try to protect yourself if somebody decides to go rogue. I don't think they will. The coaches do a good job of communicating what we expect today."
_Bengals cornerback Eli Apple, one of those Super Bowl starters, won't practice Wednesday as he gets a quad drained…